Monday, November 9, 2009

Guy's Grandfather, John Graham.

Another gem in the mail from the Missouri Historical Society. It's a death announcement for my 3rd great grandfather, John Guy Graham. It gives me the perfect opportunity to share a little bit about what I know about him.

He was born in Wythe, Virginia, in 1811, the son of Robert Craig Graham and Catherine Crockett. As mentioned in a previous post, Robert and Catherine moved their family of 7 children (ranging in ages of the eldest, John, at 22 to the youngest, Mary, being about 3 years old) to Missouri in 1833 with a few household possessions. The overland trip of over 560 miles took the family forty-two days. (That's about 13 miles a day) They spent the winter in Boone County and later moved on to Johnson County.

John Guy married Nancy Hobson in 1838 when he was 27 years old and she was 16. Nancy's father, Joseph Hobson, gave the couple a 6 year old slave girl named Ann as a wedding present. I found an 1850 slave schedule for the Federal Census that shows John Graham as owning a 16 year old female slave. Family lore says that Ann had 2 children of her own and continued to live in a little house on one corner of the farm until her children were grown and married. John and Nancy had 12 children, 11 of which grew to adulthood.

According to a County History of Johnson County published in 1895, at the time of his death, John owned 540 acres of land. He possessed the "sturdy and fearless qualities necessary to the pioneer, and met all misfortunes bravely. His death on July 3, 1878 was felt to be a public loss and his old friends and neighbors still hold his memory dear." I wonder what misfortunes they encountered? The County History does mention John and his brother, Samuel, helping their father clear the land of trees and farm it. There were also conflicts with the Osage Indians in 1837 and the "Mormon troubles" in 1838. Of course, in his elder years, the nation was held in the grip of the Civil War. It was particularly brutal in Missouri, a border state that had both Confederate and Union units-not to mention guerrilla gangs with shifting allegiances.

The Journal-Democrat newspaper from Warrensburg, Missouri printed this on July 12, 1878 on page 3, column 7:

"DEATHS-GRAHAM-At his residence near Centreview, in this county, on Wednesday, the 3d inst.. John G. Graham, in the 68th year of his age. Mr. Graham, (or "Uncle Guy" as he was familiarly called) was one of the oldest citizens of Johnson County, having resided on the farm where he died exactly forty years, on the day of his death. His preeminent virtues may be epitomized in the statement that Johnson county never had a better citizen. We hope next week to publish a biographical sketch of the good man, from the pen of Rev. S.H. McElvaine, who is well qualified for the task."
It is interesting that he was known as "Uncle Guy." We know John had siblings who all had their own families. There must have been a lot of nieces and nephews around at the end of his life for him to be known by such a nickname. Or perhaps he was just the kind of person that everyone felt a connection to that the moniker spread.

I am excited at the prospect of a larger biographical sketch of John. I plan on contacting the reference specialist there who found this for me to see if she can find the article mentioned in this death notice.

  • Yet another thanks goes to the Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness website for the photograph in this post. One of their volunteers in Johnson County made several trips to local cemeteries to get dozens of photos of Graham gravesites.
  • The County History mentioned is available on the Missouri Digital Heritage website. (A fantastic site, by the way). The book also gives some information on other Graham's who lived in the County. It is called "Portrait and Biographical Record of Johnson and Pettis Counties Missouri. Containing Portraits and Biographical Sketches of Prominent and Representative Citizens of the Counties. Together with Biographies and Portraits of all the Presidents of the United States." Chicago, Chapman Publishing Co. 1895

1 comment:

  1. Another great post, Tonya. You are bringing these people to life for us with all the personal details you are finding. Thank you!